Commencement Access and Accommodations

Mount Holyoke College strives for all on-campus our campus experiences to be accessible to and usable by all people to the greatest extent possible.

We have compiled a Commencement Event Access Guide for the Commencement Ceremony and all related events. Please see below for information about the Commencement Ceremony and reference the guide for all other Commencement events. This information will give you a sense of what to expect at each event in terms of the location, seating, paths of travel to and from the event, nearby restrooms, sensory elements, and more. Once you have familiarized yourself with what to expect at each event, we invite graduates and guests to request accommodations via the following form.

After you complete the form, someone from the Commencement Access Team will contact you directly to coordinate accommodations. If you have any questions or concerns in the meantime, please feel free to contact us at commencement@mtholyoke.edu.

Timely completion of the form will help ensure adequate planning time and we encourage individuals in need of accommodations to submit the form by April 30, 2024. However, in all situations a good-faith effort will be made to provide accommodations up until the time of each event. The information you provide will only be shared with those individuals coordinating accommodations.

Commencement Events Access Guide

Information for guests and graduates

The 187th Commencement Ceremony will take place on Pageant Green (see square E3 on the campus map). This is an untented and grassy outdoor space. If inclement weather is forecasted, a decision may be made, at least five days in advance, to relocate the ceremony indoors to the Kendall Sports Complex. We expect the weather may be sunny and there is no shade in the seating area. If it is raining or has recently rained, the ground will be muddy and less firm. Rows of folding chairs will cover the green. There is no reserved seating. Guests may arrive as early as 9 am to secure a seat. Restrooms will be available in locations across campus. Please read further for more information.

A note about Commencement communications: Graduates, please make sure to check your email regularly for important Commencement information including weather-related updates. If you or your guest have any access needs associated with extreme temperatures or sensitivity to the weather, please fill out the Access and Accommodations form.

Select non-residential buildings will be open to guests on the day of Commencement. The buildings closest to Pageant Green are:

  • Clapp Laboratory — basement-level bathroom with accessible features
  • Blanchard Campus Center — multiple bathrooms with accessible features throughout the building
  • Willits Hallowell Conference Center — single-user bathroom with accessible features, right inside the lower entrance by the Executive Boardroom
  • Art Museum (available once the ceremony commences) — single-user bathroom with accessible features, inside the front entrance of the museum
  • Porter - two bathrooms with accessible features on the first floor
  • Ciruti - one all gender bathroom with accessible features on the ground level

*For specific details on the accessible features in these buildings, please feel free to contact us at commencement@mtholyoke.edu.

Additionally, there will be portable restrooms, including accessible portable restrooms for guests to use located outside of the Central Services building and outside of Porter Hall (Squares E3 and E4 on the campus map).

Alternative viewing areas are available for all guests and do not require a Commencement ticket. Each of these viewing sites has a wheelchair accessible entrance with an automatic door opener which can be found on this campus map.

The Great Room is located on the Ground Floor of the Blanchard Community Center (Square F5 on the campus map). Blanchard Community Center is air conditioned. Seating in the Great Room includes rows of armless, rigid plastic chairs as well as padded benches with tables. The weight capacity for the plastic chairs in the Great Room is 250 pounds. Two other smaller spaces in the Blanchard Community Center – the Beverly Daniel Tatum Unity Center and Room 227 – will also be open. These spaces feature comfortable furniture and fewer stimuli. Commencement will be live streamed with captions in all three spaces.

The Morrison Room in Willits Hallowell Conference Center (square E3 on the campus map) is an additional, smaller alternative viewing location for those with access needs requiring closer proximity to accessible parking and an accessible indoor bathroom. Seating in the Morrison Room will feature rows of armless, rigid metal chairs with padded seats. The weight capacity of these chairs is 300 lbs.

Finally, the Commencement Ceremony will be livestreamed for guests and graduates who cannot or choose not to attend the ceremony in person. The livestream will be captioned.

Wheelchairs can be rented at Hometown Healthcare Store located in Northampton. Beginning April 15, you can reserve a wheelchair via their online form. You can reach the store by phone at (413) 320-4665.

As a courtesy, Mount Holyoke is glad to pick up the wheelchair you rent and bring it to campus for easier pick-up. If you’re interested in pre-arranging wheelchair pick up please email commencement@mthoyoke.edu and someone from our Commencement Access Team will be in touch.

Whether you are a graduating student or a guest, service animals — as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) — are allowed at commencement ceremonies. All other animals, including Emotional Support Animals and pets, are prohibited from the Commencement Ceremony and related events. It is not necessary for individuals with service animals to complete the Access and Accommodation form.

For more information, please see the Mount Holyoke College Service Animals Policy and the Pets on Campus Policy.

If you have any questions, please email section504coordinator@mtholyoke.edu.

There will be no food served during the Commencement Ceremony. Guests are encouraged to bring a reusable water bottle. Water stations will be available in select locations on campus, identified by signage. Boxed water will be provided for graduates.

  • American Sign Language (ASL) will be available via livestream. Guests and graduates attending the Commencement Ceremony in person may access the ASL livestream on their own personal devices or may request a tablet via the Access and Accommodations Form.
  • Live captioning (CART services) will be available on two large screens flanking the ceremony stage. CART services are also available via livestream and guests or graduates can view the captions via their own personal devices or request tablets on which to view the captions during the ceremony.
  • Assistive Listening Devices are available with either headphones or a neck loop and may be borrowed for the duration of the ceremony. Anyone who would like to borrow an assistive listening device should request one via the Access and Accommodations Form.

Guests and graduates, please complete the Access and Accommodations Form to share your request for a tablet or an assistive listening device. Tablets and devices will be available for pick-up at the Information Tent on Pageant Green located near the entrance to the Art Building (see square D3 on the campus map).

Live language translation services for Spanish and Mandarin will be available and anyone interested in accessing them should email commencement@mthoyoke.edu.

The ceremony program will be printed in a variety of font sizes (smaller than 14) and colors on a light-toned paper. The program is also available digitally. Guests and graduates may request the program in alternative formats, including larger print, screen-reader friendly, and Braille by completing the Access and Accommodation Form.

Information for graduates only

Graduates will line up in the Art Building in Gamble Auditorium and sit in assigned seats before the ceremony begins. This space is air conditioned and is close to an accessible bathroom.

Once the ceremony begins, graduates will exit the Art Building through a door that is on the ground level, cross a small paved sidewalk and move onto Pageant Green. They will make their way to the graduate seating near the front of the stage. A temporary flooring system will be installed in the aisleways adjacent to graduate seating to ensure easy access.

During the ceremony, graduates will mostly be sitting. Once diploma distribution starts, graduates will stand, walk to the line adjacent to the stage, and move across the stage. The stage has ramps with handrails on either side.

The ceremony concludes with the graduates following the stage party and faculty back down the two main aisles. There is no designated space for graduates to return.

Most seating in Gamble is auditorium style with padded chairs with arms and accessed through 4 aisles of stairs. Alternative seating options are available in the Gamble space. Please fill out the Access and Accommodation Form to share your request for alternative seating during line-up.

Once on Pageant Green, graduates will be seated on armless folding chairs with a 300 lb. weight capacity. Chairs with a higher weight capacity of 350-400 lbs. are available upon request. You may request a chair with a higher weight capacity via the Access and Accommodations Form.

The temporary flooring system will be located under a small number of graduate chairs. Any graduates needing seating on the temporary flooring, or seating with space for service animals, mobility aids, access to an aisle, or seating on a firm surface, are asked to complete the Access and Accommodation Form so that we may coordinate the details of your request with you.

If inclement weather is forecasted, a decision may be made, at least five days in advance, to relocate the ceremony indoors to the Kendall Sports Complex. Graduates, please make sure to check your email regularly for important Commencement information including weather-related updates.

We expect the weather may be sunny and there is no shade in the seating area on Pageant Green. All students will receive a boxed water. If it is raining or has recently rained, the ground will be muddy and less firm.

If you or your guest have any access needs associated with extreme temperatures or sensitivity to the weather, please fill out the Access and Accommodations form.

Live captioning (CART services) will be available on two large screens flanking the ceremony stage. CART services are also available via livestream and guests or graduates can view the captions via their own personal devices or request tablets on which to view the captions during the ceremony.

Assistive Listening Devices are available with either headphones or a neck loop and may be borrowed for the duration of the ceremony.

American Sign Language (ASL) will be available via livestream. Graduates attending the Commencement Ceremony in person may access the ASL livestream on their own personal devices or may request a tablet via the Access and Accommodations Form.

Graduates, please complete the Access and Accommodations Form to share your request for a tablet or an assistive listening device.

If you have any questions that were not answered here please contact commencement@mthoyoke.edu.

If you are a guest or graduate and you feel you need additional accommodations to fully participate in the Commencement Ceremony, please complete the Access and Accommodation form. Someone from the Access team will be in touch with you to provide more information, answer your questions and determine with you the accommodations in place for the event.

Commencement Events Access Guide

Contact us

The Commencement Committee organizes the annual Commencement ceremony.